Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth – Sarah Ladd

Sarah E. Ladd. A Stranger at Fellsworth. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.

I’m rather amazed at the sheer number of authors and series that focus exclusively on England’s Regency era.  However, readers are generally excited about new novels of this kind being released on a regular basis.  As a reviewer, I find that I rather enjoy them myself. :)

In mid-May, Sarah Ladd releases A Stranger at Fellsworth, the third novel in her Treasures of Surrey series.  Having grown up in London, Annabelle Thorley has only ever known life under her father’s tyrannical rule.  After her parents’ deaths, Annabelle is left under the care of her brother, who proves to be just as cruel to her as her father.  When Annabelle realizes that she will be forced into an equally harsh marriage to satisfy her brother’s debts, she decides to escape the only home she has ever known for her uncle’s school in Fellsworth.  Fortunately, she turns to a kind and helpful stranger, Owen Locke, who serves as gameskeeper for one of Fellsworth’s local landowners.  As Annabelle settles into her new position as a teacher, Owen finds himself distracted from his usual duties.  Poachers threaten the local estates, as well as Owen’s dream of owning his family’s ancestral land. Together, Annabelle and Owen must discover the connection between the poachers and the Fellsworth school in order to finally pursue the peaceful future they both seek.

Ms. Ladd offers a romantic and suspenseful novel set in England’s Regency Era.  Annabelle and Owen’s story will delight readers who enjoy tales of second chances.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading A Stranger at Fellsworth.  While I appreciate a variety of historical fiction stories, Ms. Ladd develops novels that masterfully combine elements of historical, romance, and suspense storytelling.  A Stranger at Fellsworth juxtaposes the significant differences between life in London and the English countryside during the Regency period.  Owen’s role as an estate gamekeeper and Annabelle’s position at her uncle’s school offer fascinating insight into some of the historical roles of men and women during the period, which are oftentimes missed in other novels.  In the midst of these historical details, Ms. Ladd also includes strong faith-based themes that will resonate well with fans of Christian fiction.  In general, the novel provides a satisfying conclusion to the Treasures of Surrey series, even as it may serve equally as well as a stand-alone book.

Fans of Ms. Ladd’s work, especially the other novels in the Treasures of Surrey series, should definitely read A Stranger at Fellsworth.  Likewise, readers who enjoy Christian fiction set during the Regency era will also find this book to be well worth exploring.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the advanced copy of A Stranger at Fellsworth!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – A Stranger at Fellsworth

Review: The Elusive Miss Ellison – Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller. The Elusive Miss Ellison. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017.

In reading and reviewing books for the Books and Biscuits Blog, I have enjoyed learning about other readers’ preferences and approach to the Christian fiction genre.  Specifically, quite a few readers focus their attention on books being released from a specific author, publisher, or even those stories set in a specific historical period or place.

In The Elusive Miss Ellison, debut author Carolyn Miller brings the Regency era to life.  Lavinia Ellison has dedicated her life to helping the poor in her small village, as an extension of her father’s parish.  When the new Earl of Hawkesbury arrives in the area, Lavinia is determined that he should take responsibility for his tenant’s welfare and the condition of his properties.  After barely surviving his military service, Nicholas Stamford seeks peace and quiet, rather than his newfound responsibilities as earl.  Lavinia’s insistence on his caring for the villagers soon becomes the voice of reason in his head, even as it clashes with the social expectations thrust upon him by his mother and his social equals.  When Lavinia’s efforts for good place her in danger, Nicholas must choose between society’s expectations and doing right by her.

Ms. Miller writes a compelling and heartwarming Regency era story that readers will greatly enjoy.  Lavinia and Nicholas, as well as the townspeople of St. Hampton Heath, will leave readers wanting more of Ms. Miller’s stories in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Elusive Miss Ellison.  While quite a few authors have written Regency era stories, Ms. Miller’s work feels true to the place and period.  In addition, the novel remains firmly grounded in the Christian fiction genre, with extensive references to Christian themes that are a natural extension of Ms. Miller’s characters and plotline.  After reading this novel, one is left to wonder why more novels in the genre do not succeed in including that level of Christian references in such a seamless manner.  While The Elusive Miss Ellison is published by Kregel Publications (a publishing house with which I am relatively unfamiliar), the novel is very well polished, edited, and produced.  In all honesty, I was surprised that this book was not released by one of the larger Christian publishing houses, due to the sheer caliber of the story.  While it may be slightly more challenging for some readers to find, I believe that this novel is well worth the effort to track down through a local library or bookstore.

Readers who enjoy great Regency era stories, especially those released by Christian publishers and authors, should definitely check out The Elusive Miss Ellison.  Fans of Julie Klassen, Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Kristi Ann Hunter will find this novel to be well worth reading.

Ms. Miller will continue the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series with The Captivating Lady Charlotte in June 2017!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – The Elusive Miss Ellison

Review: An Uncommon Courtship – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Uncommon Courtship. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Happy New Year!  I’m already eagerly anticipating another great year of spectacular Christian fiction.  The upcoming months look to be packed with exciting releases and more great writing from the genre’s incredible authors!

Ms. Hunter continues her Hawthorne House series with An Uncommon Courtship.  Lord Trent Hawthorne grew up as the younger brother of a powerful and capable duke.  Without the responsibilities of a title, Trent excels as a sportsman, while managing his relatively small estate.  However, the conniving efforts of a noblewoman results in his being married to an unassuming young woman, Lady Adelaide Bell.  Adelaide grew up in the shadow of her ever-ambitious mother and older sister.  To save her reputation, Trent and Adelaide are forced to marry, even without knowing each other beyond a few hours of conversation.  Together, they must learn how to make a successful marriage works, even if it means having a courtship after the wedding.

Ms. Hunter writes an intriguing tale set in Regency-era England, while continuing to develop the storylines of the Hawthorne family members.  An Uncommon Courtship makes for a heart-warming read during the blustery winter months.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading An Uncommon Courtship.  Ms. Hunter expertly develops her main characters, as she utilizes a different take on a Regency-era situation to diversify the storylines of the Hawthorne House series.  Unlike An Elegant Façade, An Uncommon Courtship takes place entirely after the events of Ms. Hunter’s previous novels.  As a result, I found the storyline to be much stronger as a stand-alone novel, even while it presents an exciting continuation to the series.  After reading the entire set of novels so far, I am very interested to see where Ms. Hunter takes the story next, as she must finally provide a satisfying conclusion centered around the eldest brother of the Hawthorne family.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including An Uncommon Courtship.  Fans of Julie Klassen and Lori Wick will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of An Uncommon Courtship!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – An Uncommon Courtship

Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen. The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

Esteemed Christian historical fiction author, Julie Klassen, kicks off her first-ever series with The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.  As someone who has long read Ms. Klassen’s books, this marks a slight departure to her style and approach, even while offering an in-depth look at her character and story development.

In The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, Ms. Klassen introduces a large cast of characters from the town of Ivy Hill in Wiltshire, England.  Set in the Regency Era, the novel focuses on the staff of The Bell, a roadside inn that caters to out-of-town visitors and furthers the town’s economic and social role in the region.  Jane Bell unexpectedly inherits The Bell from her deceased husband, with no warning or training to take on such a responsibility.  After Jane’s year of mourning ends, she finds that the inn has fallen into disrepair, while key members of the staff have retired or moved to other positions.  In spite of a tense relationship with Jane, her mother-in-law, Thora, soon returns to town to discover The Bell’s dilapidated state, something that would have never been allowed to happen under her management.  When external forces threaten the survival of The Bell, Jane and Thora must work together to save their inn and ensure the well-being of their town and staff.

The Tales from Ivy Hill series builds upon Ms. Klassen’s previous experience writing Christian fiction set in Regency-era England.  In The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, Ms. Klassen kicks off an elaborate storyline that is heavily dependent on a large cast of characters from throughout the town of Ivy Hill.

Overall, I thought that The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill presented a thoughtful beginning to the Tales of Ivy Hill series.  The novel offers an interesting combination of features from Ms. Klassen’s previous novels, even as she uses it to instigate her first-ever multi-book series.  In comparison to her other novels, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill has a somewhat slower pace, in part due to Ms. Klassen introducing an extensive set of characters from in and around the town of Ivy Hill.  While these characters will likely play more significant roles in other books within the series, these introductions and explanations significantly slowed the pacing of this particular novel.  Additionally, the main characters of this novel were somewhat overshadowed by the sheer number of events and characters within the storyline.  While these characters are generally unique, I never became emotionally attached to either Jane or Thora, finding some of the secondary characters to be far more interesting.  I am very curious to read the future novels in this series, as I would not be surprised to see these secondary characters more successfully carry those upcoming storylines more successfully.  Altogether, some additional editing and a more succinct storyline would have helped make this novel even stronger, while helping to better capture readers’ hearts and imaginations.

Fans of Ms. Klassen will enjoy reading The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.  Readers who appreciate Regency era stories, Christian historical fiction, and even general historical romance will find the novel to be a worthwhile read.  Ms. Klassen utilizes a general approachable writing style, with moderate to slow pacing, and a relatively long story totaling approximately 435 pages.

Ms. Klassen will continue the Tales from Ivy Hill series with The Ladies of Ivy Cottage in December 2017.

Special thanks to Bethany House for the promotional copy of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Review: An Elegant Facade – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Elegant Façade. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

After a crazy week, I was absolutely thrilled to curl up with a good book!  Kristi Hunter’s newest release, An Elegant Façade came through my NetGalley account and I absolutely could not wait to read it.  To top it off, the book arrived over two months before its formal release, making it a particularly exciting read. :)

In An Elegant Façade, Lady Georgina Hawthorne is thrilled to make her debut into society.  She has spent the last three years determined to prepare herself for any eventuality during the Season, as long as she captures the attention of one of the most powerful and titled men in the land.  Unfortunately, Georgina continuously encounters Colin McCrae, a wealthy gentleman without a distinguished family or title.  As a mutual friend of the Hawthorne family, Colin finds himself meeting Georgina everywhere he goes.  Her constant concern with her future status and social appearances drives him to distraction, especially when Colin has the chance to see the real Georgina behind her well-developed façade.  In the end, Georgina must choose between keeping up appearances or finding the truth that will allow her to finally be herself.

Ms. Hunter continues the Hawthorne Family series with this delightful tale of Georgina’s London Season.  Capturing the Regency era, An Elegant Façade will be a must-read story for Ms. Hunter’s fans this summer.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading An Elegant Façade.  Ms. Hunter expertly draws in her readers into the fascinating world of Regency-era England, while capturing their loyalty with compelling characters.  An Elegant Façade builds upon the other stories in the Hawthorne Family series.  However, the story depends on some overlap with the earlier timeframe of A Noble Masquerade.  While this plot device makes sense within the storyline, I found the intersecting aspects of the novel to be some of the weaker sections of the story.  Beyond those sections, An Elegant Façade comes into its own, as the characters and plot escalate in intensity and interest.  Fortunately, Ms. Hunter uses an approachable writing style that makes this particular storyline work well within the overall series.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including An Elegant Façade.  While An Elegant Facade can easily function as an independent novel, readers who appreciate Ms. Hunter’s style and characters will also want to read the other books in the Hawthorne House series.  Fans of Julie Klassen and Lori Wick will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of A Noble Masquerade!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – An Elegant Facade